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Ken Borland



Cricket Australia hardly a spokesman for successful player relationships 0

Posted on January 31, 2018 by Ken

 

As a spokesman for maintaining successful relationships with their players, Cricket Australia would hardly seem to be the first people one would ask for advice, but that is what the Cricket South Africa leadership have elected to do as they approach negotiations with their own players on their new memorandum of understanding.

The revenue-sharing model that has underpinned the memorandum of understanding the players have had with CSA for the last 12 years will come to the end of its four-year cycle in April and fresh negotiations with the players’ union, the South African Cricketers’ Association, are set to start within the next month.

Astonishingly, considering that Cricket Australia spent most of the year trying to ward off a strike by their own players that threatened the Ashes, acting CSA chief executive Thabang Moroe has confirmed that they will be seeking Cricket Australia’s advice in how to contract players.

Cricket Australia received a bloody nose when all their players stood together to stop the administrators from hogging all the new money coming in from the Big Bash, instead ensuring that every state cricketer, both male and female, enjoyed a share of the riches.

It seems only fair that the players should share in the revenue that is accrued mostly due to their talents, but that’s not how Moroe sees things judging by his ill-considered comments just after Christmas about CSA making the money and not the players, who are basically employees who must do what they are told.

For CSA to say they make the money is simply outrageous, considering the amount of money that has been wasted due to their own negligence in the T20 Global League false-start, for which cricket in this country will be paying for a long time.

An antagonistic approach to the players is also extremely shortsighted because there are so many opportunities abroad now for the players, options that will pay up to four times more than they can earn here in South Africa. Many of our top stars are only staying because they feel a responsibility towards the game and for the younger players coming through the system, an attitude that is engendered by the revenue-sharing model that makes them stakeholders in the overall welfare of the sport.

Cricket South Africa are heading for a collision course with their most valuable – and sought-after – assets if the approach so brazenly bellowed out by their leadership is carried into negotiations.

There is a certain old-fashioned naivety about their strident apporoach because they really cannot compete with overseas offers on an economic basis so they really need to keep their players happy.

Similarly, the implication that they will convince the Board of Control for Cricket in India to release their players for the T20 Global League because they will threaten to prevent South African players from participating in the IPL is outlandish. Preventing our best stars from maximising their earnings in the best-paid league in the world will simply chase them away permanently to foreign shores.

A mass exodus of top players would be a disastrous setback for the game, leading to a huge loss in earning from sponsors and broadcasters – the Proteas are currently still an attraction because of the world-class stars they possess – and would ultimately stymie any plans CSA have for the further development of the game.

https://www.pressreader.com/south-africa/the-citizen-gauteng/20180106/282355450131976

John McFarland Column – What the Boks need is money & leadership 0

Posted on December 12, 2016 by Ken

 

It’s been a really poor year for the Springboks under any circumstances and nobody can hide from that, but now is the time for true leadership.

It is in times of adversity that true leadership is shown and it is time for the South African Rugby Union to bring the Springboks we all love and cherish back to their rightful place in world rugby.

They need to decide either to change direction, replace Allister Coetzee and start afresh; or back him and give him his own coaching staff going forward, allowing him to put his own stamp on the team. If they back him then they have to give him what he wants going forward.

If they decide to change direction, then they must have someone new appointed by February. The national coach needs a little time to get his systems in place and the skills program has to be continued through the year and monitored.

As for 2016, there were many changes in game plan, that was quite obvious, so I feel for the players. They also had so many different defence coaches, who would all have different ideas.

There was never any clarity on the way forward in 2016, there was very little continuity, especially in defence, which makes up 50% of the game. The biggest mistake was changing defence coaches all the time.

And then you look at the rumoured national U20 coaches, none of them have coached at the really sharp end of rugby before, even at Currie Cup U19 or U21 level. Why not appoint someone with SuperRugby experience? You need to make strong appointments in these areas, because that is the start of the Springbok pipeline, you need quality coaches at all levels. Why not appoint someone with real experience and clout and give him a four-year contract?

SA Rugby needs to put their hands up, who will take responsibility for these decisions? Where has been the leadership off the field in this time of great uncertainty in Springbok rugby? New president Mark Alexander has spoken a lot, so credit to him, but also shouldn’t the leader of Saru, who is involved in all these decisions, back his decisions?

Compare that to the situation with English Rugby Football Union CEO Ian Ritchie and Stuart Lancaster, who is an excellent coach, but Ian had the unpleasant task of firing him. He said they have to get their ship going in the right direction and they have to do what they have to do, so they appointed Eddie Jones and allowed him to choose his own assistants and management team.

I see now that Saru’s exco will have responsibility for all decisions related to rugby. It will really come down to them making the right decisions going forward.

Someone like Richie Gray, who is at the forefront of his craft, was let go and he’s now the fulltime breakdown coach for Scotland. It’s a big loss for the Springboks and you can see how well Scotland did in the November series of Tests, you can see the impact he made.

The breakdown is not just about stopping tries but also creating them because 50% of all tries are scored from turnover ball and unstructured play. So it’s about how you win the ball at the breakdown and use it.

For South African rugby, the principle thing to get right is where the money should go. You can have all the marketing you want and great structures within your company, but if your major rugby team is not successful then it all falls down. You can’t attract sponsors just to start with. The Springboks should be their major spend, they need to get that right.

In any core rugby business, the spend of budget on the team and management is normally 60%. The question must be asked: Has 60% of the budget been spent on getting the Springboks right this year and moving forward?

They’ve got the money, more than enough, their turnover is R1 billion which is a very large amount of money in any corporate business, but they haven’t shown the vision and necessary expertise in spending that money widely on the rugby front. Questions need to be asked.

There are also more than enough quality players and experienced coaches in South Africa, but most of the things that were said in the recent indaba, the previous Springbok management have said for four years – things like kicking execution, high-ball and breakdown work.

So Saru need to spend money and employ coaches to fix it and they need to work around the franchises. The franchises are very open to information-sharing and always backed the national process and way. The thing is that national coaches have to be seen around the franchises, making themselves freely available to help when and where needed.

South African rugby needs a director of rugby who is high-quality and there are enough candidates in South Africa, who have a proven record when it comes to building pipelines and structures and winning trophies.

That’s what is fantastic overseas, the interaction between the national management and the franchises, like in New Zealand and other places. England have a full-time coaching co-ordinator who coaches the coaches of the elite teams. He helps them with their professional development, it makes all their coaches better. There’s nothing like that in South Africa; here, you can win one Currie Cup and you’re the next big thing. Coaching takes time and learning, and the first port-of-call for Saru should be a support system for their top coaches.

I’ve been interested to see Dave Rennie’s name mentioned. The Kobelco Steelers, where Allister Coetzee was coach before getting the Springbok job, have a relationship with the Chiefs and Dave would spend time at Kobe as a spot-coach, where he would have developed a relationship with Allister.

As ever, contracts are a problem and Rennie has signed for two years with Glasgow, so it will cost a fair bit of money to buy him out of that and then Saru need to make it lucrative enough for him to want to come to South Africa.

Any coach worth their salt wants to coach an international team, so hopefully Saru would give the job description the weight it needs. He could be used in a whole host of possible roles, the key is getting the job specifications and expectations right.

If Allister stays on, at the end of the day he is on very shaky ground next year and there will be huge pressure on him going into the Rugby Championship. Fortunately he starts with a series against France and in June they are never at their best because their championship finishes so late and is so long. Their players are tired by June and have eased back on training.

This week will be a very important week for South African rugby, with critical decisions needing to be made and backed. The process needs to be driven by those with the real power at Saru.

Sitting in 6 degrees in Japan, a long way from the South African summer, I wish everyone a very happy and prosperous Christmas. We will resume the column in January.

 

John McFarland is the assistant coach of the Kubota Spears in Japan and was the Springbok defence coach from 2012 through to the 2015 World Cup, where they conceded the least line-breaks in the tournament and an average of just one try per game. Before that, McFarland won three SuperRugby titles (2007, 09, 10) with the Bulls and five Currie Cup crowns with the Blue Bulls. In all, he won 28 trophies during his 12 years at Loftus Versfeld.

New Springbok captain one of the most admired SA leaders 0

Posted on June 06, 2016 by Ken

 

Adriaan Strauss has been confirmed as the new Springbok captain and it’s difficult to find a current player whose leadership skills and personality are more admired across the board in South African rugby.

The 30-year-old is one of those people for whom leadership comes naturally, even though he is softly-spoken and rarely demonstrative, a classic example of someone who leads from the front through actions, rather than words. He is currently doing a fine job as the captain of a young Bulls side, having previously led the Cheetahs, and has been a member of the Springbok leadership group for some time, having already played 55 Tests and been a vice-captain on several occasions.

Former Springbok eighthman Anton Leonard, who is working closely with Strauss as the Bulls’ forwards coach, is well-placed to speak about the hooker’s leadership skills, having led the Loftus Versfeld outfit himself to two Currie Cup crowns.

“Atta is a great person before he’s a rugby player and I have a lot of respect for him, a lot of players have a lot of respect for him as well. He’s not a big-talker, he’s more of a doer, but when he speaks, people listen. He’s done a tremendous job at the Bulls, especially with a young side, showing them the ropes of life and rugby. He’s personally earmarked and is growing some other leaders in the squad,” Leonard told Saturday Citizen.

There is little flashy about Springbok captain number 57 – although he is rather adept at stealing balls in the ruck – but he will be bringing technical excellence to his core role as a hooker and that is in solidifying the set-pieces. Leonard said these will be exciting times under the stocky Billy Bunter-like figure of Strauss, who did his schooling at Grey College in Bloemfontein like so many other Springboks.

“His appointment is very satisfying for us who work with him and I’m very glad for him. Firstly, he deserves to be the number one hooker, he’s number one in SuperRugby in that position if you look at the stats for the lineout. His hard work has paid off and he will bring fighting spirit to the Springboks in what is obviously going to be an exciting new era.

“He will have a lot of leaders around him, helping, respected guys like Warren Whiteley and the experienced Pat Lambie. But Atta’s strengths are that he is very good at summing up the game and he looks first at himself. He’s very humble and straightforward, every player knows where he stands with him. He handles pressure well, he shifts it on to himself and takes responsibility,” Leonard said.

Adriaan Strauss is living proof that not saying much does not mean you cannot have an amazing impact on those around you.

LAST 20 SPRINGBOK CAPTAINS

 

NAME              DATE          VERSUS      WHERE   RESULT    AGE   TEST No.      PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE
Wynand Claassen  30/5/81    Ireland                  Cape Town          23-15          30           Debut                       Natal captain
Divan Serfontein    20/10/84  S America & Spain   Pretoria    32-15          30           18th                         Led WP to 3 Currie Cup titles
Naas Botha               10/5/86        New Zealand         Cape Town      21-15       28            18th                        NT captain 4 previous seasons
Jannie Breedt        26/8/89      World XV            Cape Town            20-19        30           5th                    Tvl captain in 2 Currie Cup finals
Francois Pienaar   26/6/93     France                   Durban                 20-20         26           Debut          Captained Tvl Super 10 title 1992
Tiaan Strauss           9/7/94       New Zealand       Dunedin      14-22        29           12th             WP capt, close contender when Pienaar appointed
Adriaan Richter        30/5/95     Romania           Cape Town             21-8        29           8th            Midweek captain on Boks’ 93 tour of Australia; NT captain
Gary Teichmann         17/8/96      New Zealand   Durban            19-23              29        7th         Captained Natal to ’95 Currie Cup title
Corne Krige               19/6/99                Italy              Durban       101-0            24          Debut         Captain Paarl BHS, SA Schools & WP
Rassie Erasmus        17/7/99        Australia      Brisbane      6-32        26                21st      Turned down captaincy earlier when Krige appointed
Joost van der Westhuizen   7/8/99    New Zealand      Pretoria  18-34    28           52nd                   Led Blue Bulls to ’98 Currie Cup title, inspired confidence
Andre Vos                        10/10/99           Spain                    Edinburgh   47-3  24           7th                 Lions captain ’98 & former Bok midweek captain
Bobby Skinstad                  30/6/01           Italy                Port Elizabeth    60-14    24           18th                Maties, WP & Stormers capt
John Smit                             24/10/03          Georgia               Sydney      46-19        25           24th     Led SA U21 to Sanzar title & Natal ’01 CC final
Victor Matfield                  23/6/07      New Zealand        Durban        21-26    30         58th       Bulls Super 14-winning captain, highly respected
Johan Muller                 14/7/07           New Zealand            Christchurch   6-33    27           16th            Sharks Currie Cup captain
Jean de Villiers             9/6/2012           England                 Durban           22-17       31           73rd    Stormers capt & long-term leader in Bok team
Schalk Burger                    25/7/15       New Zealand       Johannesburg  20-27    32           78th         SA U21 & Stormers captain
Fourie du Preez              3/10/15         Scotland                   Newcastle       34-16     33        72nd         2008 Bulls Super Rugby captain, had to turn down Bok captaincy in 2012
Adriaan Strauss            11/6/16          Ireland                 Cape Town       ??-??    30         56th                Previously Bok vice-captain, Cheetahs & Bulls SR capt
 
 

Charismatic Jean is back, but where to play him? 0

Posted on August 04, 2014 by Ken

The charismatic leadership of Jean de Villiers makes him a certainty for South Africa’s starting line-up whenever he is fit, but Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer’s toughest selection decision for the Rugby Championship revolves around his captain’s position.

While the return of Victor Matfield and his stepping into the captaincy while De Villiers was injured during the incoming tours certainly did not curdle the Springboks’ play nor team cohesion, Meyer made it clear on Monday that the Stormers man would return for the Rugby Championship.

But factors beyond Meyer’s control have dished up a selection quandary for the Springbok coach.

In the absence of the unavailable JP Pietersen and Frans Steyn, the injured Jaque Fourie and the out-of-form JJ Engelbrecht, there is a dearth of outside centres in the squad.

But the specialist centres who have been named – De Villiers, Jan Serfontein and new cap Damian de Allende – are all more comfortable in the number 12 jersey.

So who should play in the number 13 top? Serfontein was outstanding at inside centre during the incoming tours, while De Villiers has played outside centre several times for the Springboks. De Allende has all the attributes of a top international midfielder, but no experience at that level.

“We’ll certainly look at Jean at number 13, although I believe 12 is his best position,” Meyer said on Monday.

“Jan Serfontein was superb at inside centre during the incoming tours, while Damian de Allende has only played 13 at school. Damian can be a brilliant centre at international level, but we need to find the right position for him.

“I just know that when Jean played 13 outside Frans Steyn, although there were a few factors involved, we didn’t score many tries. I love Jean at 12 because of the way he organises play, he was probably the best inside centre in the world last year. He can crash the ball up, but he’s also got unbelievable hands and I prefer a number 12 who can move the ball and create space on the outside.

“We can’t just crash the ball up now in midfield because all the sides have big centres and I always want to get that width and get around teams on the outside. Jean is big and strong and he has unbelievable hands, but those three haven’t played much together,” Meyer explained.

But there are no guarantees yet that either De Villiers or De Allende are actually ready for Test rugby, having spent several weeks on the sidelines with injuries.

The Springboks began their camp in Johannesburg on Monday with medical examinations and, while the results of these are only likely to be known on Tuesday, Meyer admitted that there was some concern over the pair of Stormers centres.

“The players are busy with their medicals and a lot of them haven’t played for some time. Obviously Jean is a concern because although he has been training with Western Province, he hasn’t had any contact yet.

“The feedback we’ve had from Cape Town is that Damian has done well in training, but usually the problems only come out once we begin training.

“There are also guys like Eben Etzebeth, Frans Malherbe, Beast and Pat Lambie who we just want to manage properly,” Meyer said.

The match readiness of Etzebeth will also decide the other main selection issue, which is the second row.

While Matfield has no real challengers for the number five jersey, who will play alongside him? Does Meyer opt for the experience of Bakkies Botha or the in-form Lood de Jager? Who then to put on the bench – Botha, Etzebeth or De Jager?

Meyer said the focus of this year’s Rugby Championship campaign will be the acquisition of the bonus points that were the major factor in 2013’s competition.

The fact that the Springboks had to chase the bonus point win in their last match against New Zealand – thereby ensuring the sort of open game the All Blacks love – was absolutely crucial in the final outcome.

“I think this year’s Rugby Championship will be the most difficult of the lot, historically the third year has been the most difficult for the Springbok coach.

“I think it’s going to come down to bonus points and if we don’t get bonus points against Argentina, like Australia and New Zealand did last year, and away from home if you don’t win, then we’re going to be under pressure to win both our games at home again. You must get bonus points to win this competition!

“We scored the most tries in world rugby last year, so we need to catch up to that momentum very quickly. I want to play total rugby, I want to play 15-man rugby, but our tactical kicking also really needs to improve. That was one of our downfalls last year, while New Zealand and Australia both had nines and 10s using tactical kicks,” Meyer said.

The absence of the injured Fourie du Preez is the major stumbling block to Meyer’s plans.

“Losing Fourie is an unbelievable setback, his tactical kicking is the biggest thing we’ll miss, but he is also the master on attack. He always picks up the right runners and last year we had a huge evolution in our attack in that we did it out of our own 22. Fourie is just an amazing tactical general,” the coach said.

“I want our scrumhalf to play more to the ball, to give the backline quick ball. We have a lot of scrumhalves in South Africa who are snipers and can score great individual tries, which is what the public sees, but we need a nine who can clean out quickly and give quality ball because we’re interested in team tries.”

The experienced Ruan Pienaar is probably the closest to Du Preez’s all-round skill set, with the utility talents of Francois Hougaard probably earning him a place on the bench.

The Sharks’ dismal SuperRugby semi-final performance – and the inaccuracy of the kicking by halfbacks Cobus Reinach and Lambie – is probably going to count against their chances of playing in the tournament opener against Argentina at Loftus Versfeld on August 16.



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